Chapter 85.1: Pirate’s Moral

On this day, Ma Haihu and Ma Hainiu had an internal strife in a pawn shop that Prince Han owned.

Now that Prince Han was facing difficulties, the release of his house arrest was nowhere in the near future. People with other intentions started to take the chance and come to the pawn shop. They started to claim that the worthless jade pieces that they had pawned previously were some house treasure. They made up stories and demanded for the shopkeeper to return the items. Because the jade pieces had passed its redemption period, they had been sold. The shopkeeper could not deal with this difficult customer and promised to repay him three times the amount. Unknowingly, the customer demanded that the item was worth three thousand taels and demanded it to be paid in cash immediately.

The shopkeeper was stunned as he did not have so much cash. Ma Haihu suddenly came out and said that he was willing to pay the taels but requested for the shop to swap locations with them. He wanted this shop, which was situated in a flourishing area, to move to a corner with little traffic.

Seeing how things were not going well, Ma Hainiu cut in and generously offered the three thousand taels, putting an end to this premeditated plot.

Ma Haihu pulled Ma Hainiu to the side and angrily asked her what she was doing.

Ma Hainiu retorted, “More like what are you doing! Are you trying to profit from someone’s misfortune and attack them while they are down?”

Ma Haihu was angry. “Taking advantage of people and attacking them when they are down are what we pirates do.”

Ma Hainiu spat, “Peh! Are you still a pirate? You are a court official.”

Ma Haihu straightened his back. “It is because I am a court official that I have to attack them when they are down. Now that we have such glory from following Prince Zhou, we have to pledge our loyalty to Prince Zhou. The best way to pledge our loyalty is to brutally attack Prince Han, this fallen dog.”

Ma Hainiu wanted to laugh. “With your brain, I am sure you were not the one who thought of this.”

Ma Haihu admitted, “It was our General’s idea, but I thought about it properly.”

“Then did you think of the favours that Consort Han did for me?” The people from General Zhenhai’s Residence had no personal grudges with Han Mansion. Back when they were still pirates, they still acted with conscience when they stole and robbed. How come they can't differentiate between good and bad now?”

“She is already dead and won’t be able to see you repay her anyway.” Anyway, what is gratitude? He has never seen any good come out of it.

Ma Hainiu was furious. “Then in the future, when you die, do I still need to offer incense and burn paper money for you? You won’t be able to see it after you’re dead anyway! Ma Haihu, even if you are a pirate, you should have a bottom line and principles. Be a pirate with morals! Do you know what people say about pirates with true abilities? Entering first is bravery, leaving last is loyalty. Pirates have to be loyal! Look at yourself, how have you improved since we came to Chang’an? You did not learn anything else except how to be shameless, petty and despicable!”

Ma Haihu shouted, “That’s enough! You studied for a few days and now you are lecturing your older brother! Do you think you are so great just because you opened a shop and earned some money?”

Ma Hainiu shook her head. “General Ma is so impressive. Lian Yan’er had good eyes to see through a person like you. When you didn’t have power or status, everything was good. Once you obtained power, you change sides and no longer care about your past relationships. No wonder she left you so early!”

Ma Haihu punched Ma Hainiu in the face.

Ma Hainiu was shocked as tears appeared in her eyes. Both her face and heart hurt. She really did not like her leader and brother now. Her leader had asked her to reveal how the Crown Princess had relied on Consort Han to become the Crown Princess and not long later, the Crown Princess killed Consort Han. She had always felt as if she had aided Consort Han’s death. There were many things she could not understand but she had a bad feeling. Today, as she saw her brother look no different from a tyrant, she felt extremely horrible. 

Ma Haihu was stunned to see his sister running away in tears. They had relied on each other and he was like her father. He doted on her and never thought that he would hit her. He became anxious and was about to chase her when someone called him.

“General Ma.”

Ma Haihu turned back and his gaze froze. It was Lian Yan’er, who had gone missing for quite some time.

Lian Yan’er smiled at him. “Congratulations on getting promoted.”

Ma Haihu pretended to be cool. “Did you come and find me after knowing that I got promoted?”

Lian Yan’er was very natural. “Of course.”

Ma Haihu’s breath hitched and he blurted out, “Vain!”

Lian Yan’er smiled. “You already knew I was born as a prostitute with no one to rely on. I can only be vain.”

“I thought that you were different.” That’s why he had fallen for her.

Lian Yan’er’s eyes sparkled. “How different?”

Ma Haihu huffed, “I know that I am stupid. You are actually the same as all the other women!”

“All brothel girls are vain. But what about men? Aren’t they the same? When they don’t have money, they are loyal. When they have money, they are no longer loyal. Even if the person suffered with them in the past, they will just abandon them once they are old. They will let you be a puppet as an official wife but they will go and take in other concubines. They consider that 'having cherished their past'. Women who give their true heart will always be let down by men in the end.”

“I won’t let you down.” Ma Haihu’s anger unknowingly dissipated.

“Liar.” Lian Yan’er looked aggrieved. “In the past, you treated me so well. Now that you have been promoted, you are showing me attitude and loudly chiding me.”

“I…” Ma Haihu immediately lowered his voice, “You left without saying anything. How can I not be anxious?”

“Ma Haihu, if I truly give you my heart, would you be true to me as well?” Lian Yan’er’s eyes were filled with a deeper meaning.

Ma Haihu was dumb and could not tell. He nodded honestly.

“Forever?”

“Forever.”

“If you become a big official in the future or even a duke, everyone will fawn over you and send you a lot of young and beautiful ladies. At that time, I will be old and ugly, would you still accompany me?” She had high expectations.

Ma Haihu promised, “Yes.”

“Your promise to me today is like a dream. A lot of my sisters once dreamt of this. They dream to have a husband that will pledge his undying love to them and love them till the end of time. With their beauty, they were fawned over by many and never had to worry about food and clothes. They willingly gave up everything they had accumulated and their past glory. They were willing to suffer with the man. In the end, when the man finally made something out of himself, what they got was disdain and abandonment. They turned old and became ugly. Without a house, they are left out on the streets like a beggar. Because they were once brothel girls, no one pitied them and said they deserved it. This world will never willingly give us a way out. I am afraid. I am afraid that I would go through this nightmare as well.”

Ma Haihu held onto both of Lian Yan’er’s hands. “With me around, your dream will come true. Although I am a pirate, I mean whatever I say. Like what people in the past say, a pirate also has morals.”

Lian Yan’er smiled bashfully. “In the past, I always thought that you were foolish…”

Ma Haihu objected, “Eh, you are not being sincere. I am telling you what I truly feel…”

“I never thought that you were actually so capable. Every word that you say moved me. Therefore, I want to marry you.” Lian Yan’er blushed slightly as a hint of self doubt appeared on her face.

Ma Haihu was in disbelief. “Really?”

“Bring engagement gifts tomorrow and I will belong to you.” She wanted to spend the rest of her life with him.

“Why must we wait until tomorrow? Can’t we do it today?” Ma Haihu retrieved a bag of money clumsily. “Will this do?”

“Stupid, of course not.” Lian Yan’er wanted to laugh. “Only something that can represent your true feelings is considered an engagement gift. You can’t buy it, you have to make it yourself. It can be a wooden statue, a comb or even a small pinwheel; as long as you make it yourself.”

“Okay!” That wasn’t difficult!

“I’ll meet you tomorrow afternoon at the lake outside the city. I won’t leave if I don’t see you.” 

“Got it. I will go and make it now!” Ma Haihu looked back as he ran. He waved at Lian Yan’er.

Lian Yan’er waved back with a hopeful look in her eyes. When Ma Haihu was finally out of sight, she turned around and faced the other end of the alley.

“Come out, I saw you a long time ago.”

Yan Zifang came out from behind the corner. He was expressionless.

“Since you already heard us, I will be straightforward.” Lian Yan’er’s smile disappeared. “I don’t want to stay in Duke Lu’s Residence anymore.”

“But Ma Haihu has not become a duke yet.” Yan Zifang thought that her goal would have been much bigger.

Lian Yan’er shook her head. “With how stupid he is, he will be killed if he becomes a duke. Getting to his current position is already good enough.”

“Good, Ma Haihu should have better days.” Yan Zifang was happy for his brother but did not show it. “But before that, there is someone who wants to meet you.”

Lian Yan’er asked, “Who?”

Yan Zifang did not answer but instead asked, “Do you want to see the ocean? In the future, Ma Haihu will be transferred to protect a coastal region. If you go with him, you will see the spectacular sunrise and sunset over the ocean everyday. What do you think?”

Lian Yan’er smiled, “No matter where he goes, I will follow him.”

Yan Zifang was slightly jealous of Ma Haihu. Ma Haihu was much more fortunate than him. A foolish person has foolish fortune.

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